The 10 Most Wrong Things About Bill Cosby Asking The Black Media To Stay Neutral
Last Friday, Bill Cosby finally broke his silence, praising his wife for standing by him and specifically asking Black media to be neutral.
There are a couple dozen levels of wrong with that request. Here are 10 of them.
1. He’s not actually asking for neutrality. He’s asking for apathy and willful ignorance.
2. “Black media” is an ambiguous term. Does it refer to all Black people working in some capacity of the media, or Black-run media organizations? (Or both?)
3. If we define “Black media” as “Black people working in media and people working for Black-run media organizations,” I know of quite a few Black people working in media and quite a few people working for Black-run media organizations who, because of Bill Cosby’s stature and the seriousness of these allegations, were excessively careful — deliberate, even — with reporting on this news. (Myself included.) I don’t know of anyone who has looked to make Bill Cosby’s fall a career-making story. And, even with the taste of the Pound Cake speech still on people’s tongues, I don’t know of anyone who’s happy to be reporting on and writing about any of this.
Basically, “Black media” has been very fair to Bill Cosby. By placing us in a position where we have to report on and write about the disgraceful fall of someone many of us held very dearly, Bill Cosby has not been fair to Black media.
4. A completely neutral and context-less look at this story would leave us with a man who has been accused of sexual assault by close to three dozen different women. If this man’s name was Will Losby instead of Bill Cosby, no one would be prepared to defend this man or give him the benefit of the doubt. A plea for Black media to go in with a “neutral mind” is a plea for Black media to consider who Bill Cosby is and what Bill Cosby has given to our culture when choosing to believe these allegations…basically the opposite of having a neutral mind.
5. Specifically asking Black media to stay neutral is a way of guilting Black people into having his back. It reinforces the popular conspiracy theory that these allegations are the product of “White” forces conspiring against him. And, not having his back in this circumstance is effectively selling out.
6. The ask for Black media to stand for and support him came the same weekend tens of thousands of people flooded the streets of New York City and Washington, D.C. to stand for and support the millions of anonymous Black men and women who could very well be the next Eric Garner or the next Michael Brown. To call this timing “inappropriate” would be like calling the Pacific Ocean a “puddle.”
7. If someone reminds you to take a shower, they’re not trying to be a spokesperson for responsible hygienic activity. They’re specifically telling you that you stink. Specifically reminding Black media to stay professional implies that Black media is inherently less professional than ‘White” media and needs to be reminded to be more professional.
8. If number #7 is true — and it is true — then specifically asking Black media to be professional is just a distilled version of the Pound Cake speech.
9. I’m honestly not even sure what Cosby wants when he spoke of “neutrality.” Again, even if you insert no opinion into this story, the fact that somewhere between 20 and 35 different women have alleged that he either sexually assaulted them or attempted to sexually assault them is a fact. Does he — and others being the objectivity drum — want us to just withhold opinions or to stop reporting on actual facts?
10. These reminders about excellence and neutrality only came after he was under an unfavorable spotlight. If he was really that concerned about the media doing its job and being neutral, he would have spoken up years before these stories came to light, saying “Hey, Black media. There are some rumors swirling about me and sexual assault that you haven’t covered. I think you should cover them.” This isn’t a plea for fairness. It’s the bully asking for compassion while being teased by a bigger bully.